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“ The details of the proposed enrolment will be an attempt was made by the administration of given in a general order from head-quarters. Mr. Van Buren. A bill for organizing, arming GEORGE N. BRIGGS,
and disciplining the militia of the several States Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Boston, 26th May, 1846."
in the Union, was attempted to be passed, but in
the presidential canvass of 1840, a campaign I suppose if there had been any reason found which so many of us remember, we know the on which to criticize severely this proclamation, administration of Mr. Van Buren was denounced it grew out of the fact that the party to which the from one end of the Union to the other, on acgovernor belonged, in the congress of the United count of this attempt to create a standing army in States had declared that that war was unjust and the United States, by arming, and disciplining, unconstitutionally made.
and assuming authority over the militia of the But I say the time may come when the pro
several States. Nothing in that canvass served visions of this proviso may be needed. In re so effectively to blast the administration of Mr. gard to that war I am not going to express my
Van Buren, in the eyes of those who were in opinion here. I long for a more comprehensive favor of State Rights, as this one attempt to arm vernacular to record my indignation and abhor
and discipline the militia of the several States. ence of its character. [Laughter.] I say it may Sir, I do hope the congress of the United States possibly happen, that there may be such an ad will make no law upon this subject for all time ministration at Washington, and such a govern
The duty of providing for the militia ment in Massachusetts, as would render the re force, is a duty which properly belongs to the strictions of this proviso proper and necessary.
States themselves, and I hope congress will never If there is no other evil attached to it except that interfere. The gentleman from Walpole, I am it contains a superfluity of words, I hope it will aware, is not a very strong believer in the utility be retained.
of the militia under any circumstances, and he is We have very good governors in these days, especially opposed to military parades. In this, but sometimes it has been supposed that they I cannot fully concur with him. IIe is in favor lacked back-bone. Governor Strong was a man of, and advocates the amendment of my friend who had back-bone. He took the responsibility, from Essex, (Mr. Bradford). Now I think the and the supreme court of those days sustained president of the Convention has shown, most him.
satisfactorily, that the amendment is unnecessary Sir, I listened with pleasure to, and concurred and inexpedient. In that opinion the distinin every word of the argument of the gentleman guished gentleman from Pittsfield, (Mr. Briggs,) from Boston, (Mr. Hopkinson,)—which it is not
I most heartily concur in all the views my good fortune always to do. They were rea expressed by both these gentlemen upon the subsonable, sensible, and recommend themselves to ject, and I hope the views they have expressed our consideration. The arguments of the Presi will meet the concurrence of the Committee and dent of the Convention, (Mr. Banks,) and of the of the Convention. gentleman from Pittsfield, (Mr. Briggs,) make But the gentleman from Boston, (Mr. Hopkinout that the proviso is only superfluous. Allow-son,) desires to strike out that provision which ing that to be the case, yet as we are legislating will not allow the governor of the Commonfor the future, and for all possible contingencies, wealth to be commander-in-chief of the militia it seems to me that it is the better course to adopt of the State, when called into the service of the the restriction.
United States. Well, Sir, I look upon that proMr. WILSON, of Natiek. The gentleman vision rather as a restriction than otherwise. from Walpole, (Mr. Bird,) told us to-day that Why, Sir, when the militia of Massachusetts are we had nothing to do with the militia of the called into the service of the United States, they State. He referred us to a provision in the Con are under the direction of the government of the stitution of the United States, which authorizes United States, and I for one do not wish that the congress to arm and discipline the militia, and to governor of the Commonwealth shall leave the call them out whenever any emergency arises re duties of his office here, to place himself at the quiring their services. Well, Sir, the congress head of the troops in the service of the United of the United States has not hitherto seen fit to States, and lead these troops out of the State. exercise that power. We have lived under the No, Sir ; let the militia of the State, when they government for two generations, and no serious are called into the service of the United States, attempts have been made to arm and discipline, be under the direction of the United States auby the national government, the militia of the thorities, and let the governor of the Commonseveral States. In 1838 and 1839, however, such wealth stay at home and attend to his executive
WILSON – WALKER.
duties. I believe that is the true policy, and I the force of these institutions upon the indepenhope it is a policy which the Convention will dence and freedom of the country. I hope we adhere to now.
shall adhere to the policy of discouraging standBut the gentleman from Boston says, that this ing armies and encouraging the militia, which he article originated with, or was reported by John so strongly commended. I have no sympathy Adams and by Judge Parsons. Now, Sir, it so whatever with that sentiment which sneers at and happens that most of this article was copied from derides the militia of this Commonwealth. Sir, the Charter of William and Mary in 1692. But while the last legislature was in session, the just notice its language. I think as a matter of militia were called out to protect the city of good taste it should not be continued in the Con- Charlestown from mob violence, called out by stitution any longer. The idea of saying in our the mayor of that city, who, is now an honored Constitution that the governor “shall have full and worthy member of this Convention, and I power by himself, or by any other commander, happen to know that it is the opinion of men of or other officer or officers, from time to time, to intelligence, that it was the calling out of the train, instruct, exercise and govern the militia and militia of Charlestown and Boston that saved that navy, and for the special defence and safety of the city from such an outbreak as that fatal one of Commonwealth, to assemble in martial array, and several years ago, to which, the president of the put in warlike posture, the inhabitants thereof, Convention alluded in his remarks-an outbreak and to lead and conduct them, and with them to which dishonored our Commonwealth. And it encounter, repel, resist, expel and pursue, by must be evident to every man that such a force is force of arms, as well by sea as by land, within necessary for the protection and the preservation or without the limits of this Commonwealth, and of the peace of the Commonwealth. We have in also to kill, slay and destroy, if necessary, and this State, a militia force amounting to about conquer by all fitting ways, enterprises and 7,000 men, armed and disciplined, and I undermeans whatsoever, all and every such person and take to say that most of these men can drill so as persons as shall at any time hereafter in a hostile to win the applause of officers of the regular manner, attempt or enterprise, the destruction, veteran troops of the United States. invasion, detriment or annoyance of this Com The militia of Massachusetts, to-day, is a very monwealth.” Why, Sir, there is certainly no different affair from what it was a few years ago. need of employing such language in the Consti- Since the present volunteer system has been tution of Massachusetts, and I hope the Conven- adopted, young men of spirit and enterprise have tion will strike it out altogether.
joined it, and I regard it now as an honor to the But, if the gentleman wishes to retain one of State. I desire that it should be incorporated the provisos at the end of the article, I am per into the Constitution, and all necessary provisions fectly willing that it should be retained. I am made for its protection and advancement. And perfectly willing that we shall jrovide that the as the gentleman from Lawrence, (Mr. Parsons,) provisions of this article shall “ be exercised by the who holds a commission in the militia of the executive agreeably to the rules and regulations Commonwealth, has promised that the gentleman of the Constitution, and the laws of the land, and from Winchester, (Mr. Prince,) and others, who not otherwise." If the gentleman will offer that opposed the assembling of this constitutional proviso I shall not object to it. I do not suppose Convention, if this Report is adopted, will supany gentleman in this Convention wishes to put port the action of the Convention and secure for any power in the hands of the executive that is its adoption five thousand votes, I hope the not authorized by the Constitution of the Com- friends of constitutional reform will stand by the monwealth and by the laws of the land.
chairman of this Committee and sustain the The gentleman for Erving, (Mr. Griswold,) Report without amendment. told us in his speech the other day, that John Mr. WALKER, of North Brookfield. I will Adams had said, that there were four institutions not detain the Committee with any extended in the State of Massachusetts, any one of which remarks upon the subject of this Report; and I would have led to the Revolution ; the town- should not have risen at all in reference to it, if I meetings, the free schools, the congregational had not been alluded to by the gentleman from societies, and the militia. Sir, every man in this Lawrence, the chairman of this Committee, (Mr. body will acknowledge that John Adams was Oliver,) as one who could bear witness to the not only the man, above all others, who led the falsity of the charge made by the gentleman from Revolution, but that he understood the power of Fall River, (Mr. Davis,) that he was an enthusithese institutions of Massachusetts, and this is the astic military man-for I understood the charge to language of that great man who comprehended be essentially that. The honorable chairman of
the Committee repelled the charge with very great | all, are of the same general character, the adjutanteffect, with very great propriety, and, I may add, general, my worthy friend the chairman of the with very great truth. I have no hesitation in Committee, makes the following remarks :saying, that nothing could be more unlike the character of that gentleman than such enthusiasm “ These causes, so well and so justly urged in in military affairs as was charged by the gentle the foregoing quotations are inherent in the exman from Fall River.
isting system. But any system of military serIn proof of that assertion I must refer the vice, will
, I think, pass away before the advance Committee for a moment to an official document education, of true morals, and of an enlarged and
of Christianity, the influence of a just and right emenating from the gentleman from Lawrence, in high-toned refinement. These, aided by success 1847, when he was at the head of the militia of and permanency in industrial pursuits, such as the the Commonwealth, as adjutant-general. He minds and the men of Massachusetts can devise then had the entire charge of the military affairs
and pursue, must eventually render all arms and
all forceful appliances unnecessary. That such of the State, and in the performance of his official
may, at the earliest period, be the condition of duty issued a circular to the officers of the various
our Commonwealth, of our common country and companies within the limits of the Commonwealth, of the world, is my own most sincere and ardent instructing them to report to him the condition of desire. As a man bound to promote the best destheir respective commands, and, if in a depressed tiny, and to toil for the highest good of man, I condition, what was the cause of that depression ?
should be unjust to our common humanity, false
to the great principles of right, a traitor to all In pursuance of that special order, returns were
moral obligations, did I not add my hopes and made from a great many of the different compa- join my labors in accelerating the great blessing. nies of militia throughout the State, to some of My views are not hemmed in by the purposes or which I ask the attention of the Coinmittee for a proceeds of an office, which may safely be closed moment:
when men's hearts shall be so nicely attuned to
the just harmonies of their better nature and of Capt. John Kurtz, H, 1st Light Infantry, Bos- all truth and right, as to forget all selfishness and ton.—I consider my company in a very de to live in all love; when bad men shall forsake pressed condition, and the cause I attribute to the their badness, and join the good?; when all the present state of public opinion."
good shall be consolidated into one undivided,
indivisible, impregnable and victorious array Captain Charles Caldwell, I, 4th Light Infantry, against sin, against all wrong and all injustice. Medford.-There are several reasons why this Then all necessity for arms, then all war and the company is in a depressed condition. One is, that direful furies that follow in its wasting train,the State bounty is not adequate for the expenses (“the land is like the garden of Eden before them, of the company, and another is that a large por and behind them a desolate wilderness,”)—then tion of our influential men are opposed to the poverty, with all its heart-breaking, soul-killing existence of any militia.”
crimes, - then intemperance, — then slavery,
then every form of hateful sin, will be driven from Captain Joseph B. Wright, B, Light Infantry, earth, to the darker regions whence they came, Pepperell.—" This company is very much de- and to which may they speedily return. But, alas, pressed, there being no encouragement (under the that the good are weak and too neglectful of high present organization) to do military duty, and the duty; alas, that legislation is so little imbued public generally being opposed to it. Unless some with the lofty magnanimity of Christianity; alas, change is made by the present legislature, we shall that the bad are too mighty,—and that views of not have men enough to keep the company in nearer advantage eclipse the more distant, though existence.”
surer rewards of right! These things render us
still victims, however unwilling, of a resort to Captain A. B. Ingalls, I, 6th Light Infantry, force, when all else is unavailing. The legislature Lynn.-" The company is in a depressed condi- of Massachusetts must decide whether the time tion, owing to the fact that no interest in the mili- has arrived when it will be safe for the Commontia is taken by the public. I think it very doubt- / wealth to make the experiment of removing the ful if the company can exist much longer, unless sword. As a lover of peace, I cannot object.” some measures are taken to support or sustain the militia.”
Now, Mr. Chairman, I think the extracts I Captain Nathaniel F. Cutter, A, 9th Light In- have made fully vindicate the gentleman from fantry, Ashburnham.—"My company is not in a Lawrence, the chairman of this Committee, from flourishing condition. Public opinion in this the charge made against him. I think I have place) is strong against all military operations, proved, from the official documents of the Comand the law of the Commonwealth, which allows monwealth, that he has no love for military affairs a man to perform duty
, as best suits his certainly no military enthusiasm. I think he convenience, I believe to be the cause."
stands before the Convention fully acquitted of Upon these returns, most of which, though not the charge. I felt it due to that gentleman that
the Convention should hear extracts from the being the fact in relation to military affairs in noble document from which I have read, for it Europe, the subject of remodelling our own will, I think, stand very much to his credit in the military system becomes a matter of deeper intergood time coming-that blessed time which he est. I suppose it is a foregone conclusion with has predicted with so much confidence; when this Convention that we must have a military military armaments will be no more needed ; a organization in this Commonwealth, but, Sir, I time to which he looks forward with so much hope it will be such as is best adapted to the anxiety, and which, I am happy to tell him, I increasing pacific sentiment of mankind. anticipate with an equal degree of assurance.
I hasten to relieve the Committee. I rose And now, Sir, so far as “ repelling invasion mainly for the purpose of vindicating the chairand putting down insurrection” are concerned, I man of the Committee on the Militia, a gentleman shall say nothing in regard to the necessity of an for whom I certainly entertain a profound respect. organized militia, but so far as police services are Mr. HALLETT, for Wilbraham, I hope that needed, -to which gentlemen who have spoken this seventh article will be retained precisely as it have often referred,- I will say, that an armed is, and I hope that my friend from Natick, (Mr. police, organized for the purpose, would be doubt-Wilson,) will not insist on the amendment he less quite as effective and much less objectionable. has proposed. My reasons for it are briefly these :
I certainly would not increase the power of our It is well known, that in the war of 1812, a conmilitia organization, and I do not think the fict arose between the executive power of the Report of the Committee is designed to have that
Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the execueffect. The chairman of that Committee is not a tive power of this nation. In the eighth volume man who would recommend anything of that kind. of the Massachusetts Reports which I have in for I suppose
regards the whole system as my hand, in the supplement will be found the something about passing away.
opinion of the judges of the supreme court, Sir, we stand in a period of the world's history, which was given upon the question then raised such as was never witnessed before, in respect to by Caleb Strong, governor of this Commonwealth, military affairs. At this very time a great move upon the requisition that was made upon Majorment is being made in the most warlike nation in General Dearborn by the Secretary of War, the world—a nation which has kept all other calling upon Massachusetts to furnish her quota nations in commotion for the last sixty years. I
of militia for the defence of the country, under mean Great Britain. A movement is now being that provision of the Constitution of the United made in that country, which I believe is destined States which authorizes Congress to provide for ultimately entirely to abolish the whole military calling out the militia for the defence of the system of the world. That movement is headed Union and the execution of the laws. Governor by no less a man than Richard Cobden. He Strong, in his letter dated the first of August, makes it a political issue, and upon it he stakes 1812, says :his political fortunes. He demands that England shall at once cease increasing her military and
“ Having laid before the council of this State naval armaments, and propose to other nations to
a letter from the Secretary of War, of the 12th
of June last, and letters dated June 22d and July do the same. He says it is an absurdity; that 15th, which I received from Major-General DearEngland adds twenty-five ships of war and born; and also a letter which I have received 50,000 troops to her military and naval forces from the Secretary of War, July 21, 1812, rebecause France has increased hers, and France questing their advice as to what measures ought adds to her armaments because England has
to be adopted in consequence of the requisition increased hers, leaving both relatively just where
expressed in the said letters. The council there
fore advised that, as upon important questions of they where before either had made such enlarge- law, and upon solemn occasions, the governor and ment. Mr. Cobden maintains that such a system council have authority, by the Constitution, to is, on the face of it, absurd, and ought no longer require the opinion of the justices of the supreme to be continued. On this issue he appeals to the judicial court, it is advisable to request the opinion people of England, a people of whom M. Guizot questions, to wit:
of the justices of that court on the following has justly said, that they are more distinguished for "1. Whether the commanders-in-chief of the their “good common sense in application to politi- militia of the several States have a right to detercal affairs than any other people in Europe.” mine whether any of the exigencies contemplated And, Sir, we may rest assured, that Mr. Cobden by the Constitution of the United States, exist, will not appeal in vain. The people will sustain
so as to require them to place the militia, or any
part of it, in the service of the United States, at him, and the present insane and iniquitous system the request of the President, to be commanded will be repudiated by all Christendom. Such | by him, pursuant to acts of Congress.
“. Whether, when either of the exigencies | tion of the justices is, whether either of the exiexist authorizing the employing of the militia in gencies exist, authorizing the employing of the the service of the United States, the militia thus militia in the service of the United States, the employed can be lawfully commanded by any militia thus employed can be lawfully commanded officers but of the militia, except by the President by any officer but of the militia, except by the of the United States.'
President of the United States. “ In conformity with the foregoing advice of “ The Federal Constitution declares that the the council, 1 request you, gentlemen, to state to President shall be the commander-in-chief of the me your opinions on the questions above-men army of the United States. He may undoubttioned, as soon as conveniently may be. The Sec- edly exercise this command by officers of the army retary will deliver you the letters above-mentioned. of the United States, by him commissioned, ac“I am, gentlemen, with great respect,
cording to law. The President is also declared “Your most obedient servant,
to be the commander-in-chief of the militia of “ CALEB STRONG." the several States when called into actual service I will now read the following extracts from
of the United States. The officers of the militia the reply of the justices to the governor's inter
are to be appointed by the States ; and the Presi
dent may exercise his command of the militia by rogative:
the officers of the militia duly appointed. But we
know of no constititutional provision authorizing “ By the Constitution of this State, the author
any officer of the army of the United States to comity of commanding the militia of the Commonwealth is vested exclusively in the governor, who
mand the militia, or authorizing any officer of the
militia to command the army of the United States. has all the powers incident to the office of com
The Congress may provide laws for the government mander-in-chief, and is to exercise them person of the militia, when in actual service, but to exally or by subordinate officers under his command,
tend this power to the placing of them under the agreeably to the rules and regulations of the Con
command of an officer not of the militia, except stitution and the laws of the land.
the President, would render nugatory the pro“ While the governor of the Commonwealth remained in the exercise of these powers, the Fed, pointed by the State.
vision that the militia are to have officers aperal Constitution was ratified, by which was vested
Theoph. Parsons. in the Congress a power to provide for calling
(Signed) SAMUEL SEWALL. forth the militia, to execute the laws of the Union,
Isaac PARKER." suppress insurrection and repel invasions; and to provide for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States,
I remember no instance in political history that reserving to the States, respectively, the appoint
was more marked, than the course of the political ment of the officers. The Federal Constitution men of that period, as they endeavored to place further provides that the President shall be com the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in an attitude mander-in chief of the army of the United States,
of opposition to the government of the United and of the militia of the several States when called into the actual service of the United Statcs.
States, in regard to this very question. I will “On the construction of the Federal and State only add that this opinion was subsequently Constitutions must depend the answers to the revised in the case decided in the 12th of Wheaseveral questions proposed. As the militia of the ton's Reports, 30, where the opinion of the Suseveral States may be employed in the service of the United States, for the three specific purposes
preme Court of the United States was given by Mr.
Justice Story, utterly and totally demolishing the of executing the laws of the Union, of suppressing insurrections, and repelling invasions, the arguments which had been here urged and the opinion of the judges is requested, whether the reasoning employed by the judges of the Supreme commanders-in-chief of the militia of the several Court of Massachusetts, in regard to the powers of States have a right to determine whether any of the United States and the powers of Massachusetts. the exigencies aforesaid exist, so as to require
All I have to say is, that these judges, and they them to place the militia, or any part of it, in the service of the United States, at the request of the
were most learned judges in our land at that day, President, to be commanded by h. m, pursuant to
construed this very section and particularly that acts of Congress.
proviso which it is suggested should be incorpo" It is the opinion of the undersigned that this rated into the Constitution, so as to lead to a right is vested in the commanders-in-chief of the
result that was manifestly and directly in conflict militia of the several States."
with the laws and Constitution of the United That is one answer they gave to that proposi
States. If they did so honestly, and I do not tion which brought the Commonwealth of Mas
doubt they did, it then shows that this provision sachusetts directly in conflict with the United was made for a period of time previous to the States. The answer they give to the second ques
Constitution of 1798, and is not now applicable tion proposed by the governor, reads as follows : and ought not to remain in the Constitution, and
this seventh provision precisely covers all the "Another question proposed to the considera exigencies of the case, because the Constitution of